Butterflies of the
Amazon and Andes
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Tribe - PIERINI
Rio Madre de Dios, Peru
© Adrian Hoskins
The 8 species in the genus
are neotropical in distribution.
On the upperside the
male of statira is deep yellow at the
base of the wings, with the outer third of both wings being a much
paler greenish yellow. The female is a unicolorous lemon yellow,
with a black spot in the fw discal cell, black wing margins and a
black apex. The underside of the wings in both sexes has a lustrous
Aphrissa species -
boisduvalii, often shares it's habitats
with statira but can be distinguished
by it's much paler colouration in both sexes.
is by far the most widely distributed and abundant species. It is
found from Florida to Bolivia.
This butterfly is usually seen along riverbanks and other open
habitats, at altitudes between about 0-1600m. It is commonest
between about 200-800m, and is most abundant during the early part
of the wet season.
The eggs are
laid singly on the leaves of the larval foodplants.
The caterpillars use a
variety of hostplants including Cassia,
Entada ( Leguminosae ), Callichamys
( Bignoniaceae ) and Calliandra (
Mimosaceae ). DeVries considers that there may be two separate
species under the name statira, as
there are 2 larval forms which use host plants. The form which feeds
on Leguminosae is orange, tinged with greenish, and has a dark
bluish band below the spiracles, and an orange head. The form that
feeds on Bignoniaceae has a green head and a pale green body with a
thin yellow lateral stripe.
The chrysalis ( Jamaican
form ) varies in colour from grey to pale bluish-green, and has a
thin reddish line along the back and a cream lateral line.
The butterfly is strongly migratory
in behaviour, flying upriver in the latter part of the dry season, and
downriver towards the sea in the wet season. It often continues out
onto the open sea and colonises islands e.g. in the Antilles. The
flight is fast and direct, as is typical of migratory species.
Males are commonly found in groups,
imbibing moisture from damp sand on river beaches. These groups are
often tightly packed, with up to 100 butterflies crammed together on a
square foot or less of ground. The butterflies sometimes form
exclusive groups, but just as frequently intermingle with other pale
coloured genera including Rhabdodryas,
Females do not visit sandbanks, but can be seen nectaring at flowers,
and are particularly attracted to red or orange flowers such as